She was in her run.
You would think that catching a horse in a 9 x 30 run would be easy, right? Ya, not-so-much.
Usually TC can catch any of the horses easily because he never makes them work. He is always the good guy, where as I am usually the bad guy. But it seems as though that day, in her eyes, even he was the bad guy. It was very cold and windy and everyone was a little wound up.
So I went out with my string (my secret weapon for hard to catch horses) and some grain, and thought I'd have her in a second. It usually works very well with her. I was already running late so I really didn't have time for a training session right then. If I had time, I would have turned her loose, walked to the round pen with my grain and a halter, she would have followed me in, and we would have worked back into where she is supposed to be.
So she ate the grain, I started to slip my hand and string around her neck and she bolted back up towards the barn, putting her big fat butt with double barreled hooves right in my face. I put the string back in my coat pocket, and attempted to rub my way in on her side, she bolted to the other end of her run and put her butt on me again. You have no idea how badly I wanted to smack that butt, but I have learned in the past that with her it is the wrong thing to do. She will gladly unload both barrels on you if she feels threatened or cornered. It is too small an area for that risk.
So we went back and forth, from one end of the run to the other, with me wishing I had gloves on because my fingers were numb. I stayed calm despite my urgency and frustration. She would stop I would try to rub my way in from the side, using my body position to try to hold her still. I'd get so far and then she would squirt past me to the other end. Finally she let me rub my way in on her side and put my arm over her back and then I just slipped the string over her neck and we were good to go.
Or so I thought.
Usually once you catch her, she is yours. She will do what you ask, without question. She has always loaded easily, without anything more than a quick sniff to the trailer floor.
This day, she decided that she didn't want to go into the trailer. I pushed her sideways, around the trailer, I moved her feet all over the place, finally with some clucking from TC behind, she loaded. While we were doing her xrays she was so good. I thought maybe she was done fighting for the day.
I was wrong again.
It was time to go home, she would not go into the trailer. She was even more stubborn this time. It took more moving of the feet and TC smacking her on the butt to get her to load. I'm pretty bothered by all of this. Not sure why she is doing this all of a sudden, and I know she is getting ready to have to do a 5 hour drive next week.
The catching thing I understand. She has always been that way, notoriously hard to catch. She came to me that way, and I have struggled with it since day 1. I know how to work it out of her, it just takes some round pen work, which she has not had in a while due to weather and lameness.
The trailer things is my bigger concern. I have to wonder if it is something I am doing. Let me explain why. When we got Gambler, the TWH, he was easy to load, practically did it on his own. Then one day we were loading up to go to a friends to ride and he balked. When it was time to go home, he balked even harder, When we sold him a month later, it took 4 people to get him into the trailer.
One thing I learned from Jay, is that when I start seeing a specific new negative behavior with more than one of my horses, I need to look at my own actions to see if I am causing it. Now granted, the two incidents are years apart, and my other 3 load themselves, and they go place much more than she does, but I still have to ask if it is me, or is it her recent experiences when she has gone some place.
Her last three trips have been to vets, so yes that could be it. Is it because she has to brace her self in the trailer for balance and is not able to unload off of her lame feet? Should I put a divider back in so she can lean for stability? Should I not tie her in? I found that Killian and Trax prefer not to be tied in. They like to have the lead rope over their back and sort out where they want to stand. Usually once faces forward and the other backwards. It was because of them I took the dividers out in the first place. Perhaps she would like that as well?
I considered the possibility of this being a herd bound issue, but I'm thinking not. She is the least herd bound of any of my horses. She usually loves to go places, she is curious. Was she just having a bad day? Wouldn't be the first time.
I'm thinking that perhaps for the long trip we will install a hay net to give her something to do. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Good idea, or bad? I think Saturday we will do some trailer work though, without going anywhere. Maybe just load her & give her some treats. Take her out and do it again. Maybe this would be a good time to try some clicker training. I've never used one on a horse before, but I understand the concept now so I guess it couldn't hurt, could it?
If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions I would love to hear them.